Thursday, May 23, 2013

Count to a Trillian

Count to a Trillion is the first book in a science fiction series by John C. Wright. I picked it up at my local bookstore on a whim, looking for a new space opera. The writing drew me in at the beginning, but that didn't last. I don't like any of the characters and don't care what happens to them. There's much too much explanatory material, info-dumps on mathematics and history of this future Earth that go on for pages with one character waxing eloquent occasionally interrupted by another character asking for further explanation. The book seems much too long in general, considering how little actually happens.

I also find much not to like from a feminist perspective. Whether the author is a sexist pig or just his characters are, I tired of it quickly. One example:
"That's the second time you've said you were above me, little lady, and I won't stand it. I've a mind to turn you over my knee!"

She raised an eyebrow. "Well, I am flattered by the offer of a spanking, but I am your superior officer, and your sovereign, and higher on the ladder of evolution than you, and I have a fully armed starship, and several armed forces at my command, not to mention I can flick one of my hairpins up your nose. So any horseplay could turn out badly for you. Besides, what would my husband say if you assumed his privileges?"
I'll give my copy away and not read the rest of the series.

from the back of the book:
Hundreds of years in the future, Menelaus Illation Montrose grows up in postapocalypse Texas as a gunslinger for hire. But Montrose is also a mathematical genius and this earns him a place on an interstellar mission to the Monument, an alien artifact inscribed with data so complex, only a posthuman mind can decipher it. So Montrose does the unthinkable: he injects himself with a dangerous drug designed to boost his already formidable intellect to superhuman intelligence. It drives him mad.

Two centuries later, Montrose is awakened from cryosuspension with no memory of his posthuman actions, to find Earth strangely transformed. But the Monument still carries a secret he must decode —one that will define humanity’s true future in the universe.
Strange Horizons says, "If all this leads you to understand that much of Count to a Trillion occurs as dialogue, and that much of the dialogue occurs as sermon, screed, or rhetoric, then you'd be right" and closes with this: "The blank prose and blanker soul of this novel leads the reader to experience what it must be like to follow the imperative of its title: it feels a long way from its beginning to its end." Kirkus Reviews thinks it needs work and describes it as "often grindingly didactic, with no narrative flow and three genius protagonists all unpleasantly cold and unsympathetic". The New York Journal of Books says, "it falls into the trap of being overburdened with exposition (much of which is pure techno-babble); and the first part of the novel in particular feels slow and tedious as various characters fill the hero in on what he missed while he was asleep". SF Crowsnest says, "I felt the book was overly long with rather verbose descriptions when they were not really required."


  1. Yep, I'll pass on this one. Who says little lady?

  2. "Who says little lady?"

    exactly! there's just gotta be a better way to write dialog than this